Backup to the Backup’s Backup

by on May 23, 2011 · 29 comments

By now, you should be fairly familiar with the Cardinals 25 active roster.  As of the completion of the game against the Royals, it consisted of 13 pitchers, 2 catchers, 6 infielders, and 5 outfielders, although technically Allen Craig was getting playing time as an infielder as of late.  Shortly after the game, it was announced the backup catcher Gerald Laird has a broken finger in his right hand and will go on the DL. 

Laird’s replacement has yet to be announced, but I’m putting my chips down on Tony Cruz.  Why?  Just a hunch, actually.  There is very little difference in the offensive numbers for Tony Cruz and Bryan Anderson at Memphis, but Cruz has more hr ( 4 – 1) and and rbi ( 16  – 6 ).  His slash line also looks slightly better:

  • Anderson – .216/.301/.351/.653
  • Cruz – .232/.295/.389/.685

Perhaps most importantly, he hasn’t had a chance prove himself at the big league level yet.  Anderson has, and he did quite well for himself in a 15 game stint last season.  As a matter of fact, he put up a rather impressive line of .281/.314/.344/.658, but he wasn’t nearly as impressive behind the plate.  Opponents were 5/6 in stolen base attempts, and he owned a .978 fielding percentage in Yadi’s spot.  Unfortunately for Bryan, those numbers will probably be remembered much more than his .281 batting average. 

While we’re on the subject of replacements, let’s not forget that Skip Schumaker is set to return soon.  That means saying goodbye to Pete Kozma for now, but it opens the door to an even bigger question.  When David Freese returns, who will leave then?  For now, I’d say that Allen Craig (performance) and Ryan Theriot (contract) are holding immunity idols, but a difficult choice will have to be made between Daniel Descalso and Tyler Greene at that point.

  • Descalso – .204/.288/.320/.609
  • Greene – .200/.316/.292/.608

I’m tempted to give the edge to Descalso for defensive reasons, even though Greene’s only errors have come when he’s played 2B.  Descalso’s only errors have come when he’s played 3B.  Do I dare say that they cancel each other out and wipe the defensive slate clean?  No, I wouldn’t go that far, and I’ll also give the nod to Descalso for his ability to play multiple positions, but don’t be surprised if this isn’t even a problem by the time Freese makes it back.

Why not?

Jon Jay is hitting .306/.390/.444/.835 with 3 hr and 11 rbi in only 83 plate appearances.  He’s currently good for 0.6 WAR.  Colby Rasmus is hitting .287/.391/.437/.828 with 3 hr and 15 rbi in 191 plate appearances.  Raz is currently good for 1.0 WAR.  Why not send Raz packing in a combo deal that includes one of Skip, Dirty Dan, or Greene for as much as they can get in return?  Just a thought.

TIDBIT:  As much as I dislike the choosing-your-lineup adventure every other night, it seems like the Cardinals are just searching for the right infield combination that works for a given pitcher.  It isn’t always pretty, but you can’t say that TLR isn’t trying.

MORE BITS OF TID:  If Cruz is called up, then the backup to the backup’s backup would technically be Anderson…I think….maybe.

FYI – Between Cruz and Anderson, Cruz managed to stick around longer in spring training, and he seems to be more the Laird-type the Cardinals prefer for their backups.   

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Cardinals fan since I could hold a fishing pole steady. Accidental blogger. Opinionated. I could care less about what you think of me. Constantly confounded, bemused, and confuzzled (ie I'm a pc and a mac). I'm an IT infrastructure analyst with a penchant for breaking tech toys. I ate a sabermetric primer for breakfast. I love playing "All-powerful GM of MLB". The 2010 Cardinals represented a good, practical definition "cognitive dissonance". The 2011 version got by on duct tape and a prayer, and I'm fine with that. They just need new tape for #12 in 12.
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{ 29 comments }

Cardinal70 May 23, 2011

It could be that a pitcher is removed when David Freese is ready to return.

Ha! I kill me!

Dennis May 23, 2011

3 words for you – “random drug testing”

Seriously, they could remove a reliever without a problem, and I’d probably be as shocked as anybody. Actually, they could remove Boggs, and TLR wouldn’t even notice (I’m not advocating this, btw). The logical thing would be to send Franklin to the DL with some mysterious ailment like “groinstring pull” or “fractured ego”.

Cardinal70 May 23, 2011

See, this is why you have to be careful with what you suggest. You never know who will be reading.

Why Kozma didn’t go down when the Schu man came back is really a head scratcher, even if they did want more bodies on the bench. Couldn’t we at least have some good ones?

Dennis May 23, 2011

I couldn’t agree more about Kozma. Nice story and all, but he’s now part of the league’s largest collection of middle infielder’s who don’t excel at very many things.

It’s almost like they can’t choose between admitting they made a mistake with someone or parting ways with a fan favorite. Either way, it’s no fun watching them effectively play with a 23 man roster.

Lee May 23, 2011

I thinking trading Rasmus would be a bad idea. Too much talent AND he’s younger by a year than Jay.

Also, using the year-to-date stats doesn’t quite seem like a large enough sample size to make a completely accurate comparison (though Jay’s career has been short enough that any sample would be small). Honestly, I’d rather dangle Jay out there and see what he can fetch.

Plus, Fangraphs WAR has Colby at 2.0 on the season and Jay at 0.6, which may or may not be relevant.

Dennis May 23, 2011

A lot of people may not like the idea of trading Rasmus, but are they prepared to pay him the kind of money that Jay Bruce and Justin Upton are making in their contracts? Sure, Raz is talented, but I don’t see what his age has to do with anything. The only thing that really matter is how much longer he and Jay are playing for cheap, and Jay has an advantage there, because he’s actually a year behind Raz in the arbitration system.

Plenty of teams have already shown interest in Raz, and you have to give up something of value to get something of value in return. If there is a danger of him outpricing the Cardinals in a few years, then it seems reasonable to start considering his trade value now while they have plenty of options.

I don’t consider Jay a good, viable candidate for an everyday CF, but they certainly could do worse than his 0.1 dWAR and his .398 OBP. Yes, the sample size for Jay is relatively small, but he’s already showing more power and giving them more production than he did last season. The only real relevance I see in the Fangraphs WAR and B-R WAR differential is that the projections work out about the same. The more at-bats that Jay gets, the more he looks like Raz.

Lee May 23, 2011

Perhaps my fandom is in the way of my objectivity, but I really think Rasmus will have a much more productive career than Jay, which I why I wouldn’t want to trade him away.

My previous comment didn’t really take salaries into consideration, which IS important given that Jay will cost much, much less than Rasmus (and there’s those Pujols/Wainwright contract negotiations on the horizon). But then again, I’m hoping the Moz and Co. and figure all that out… and I don’t really have a say in the matter since they won’t return my calls ;)

If the Cards are strapped for cash and decide to move Rasmus, well that could be fine. I would just hate to move him unless we had to, as I think of Colby as being more of a building block and Jay being more of the 3rd/4th outfielder-type. But again, blind fandom may be a factor here.

Dennis May 23, 2011

Lee, I’m all for letting fandom get in the way of objectivity, so that’s not a concern here. While I do think it likely that Raz will have a much more productive career than Jay, I’m not convinced that he’s worth a $50M+ gamble, especially for a team that could end up with several long term deals. The Cardinals have $44.375M committed to 2012 for just 4 players (Lohse, Westbrook, Molina, and Holliday). That’s before they do anything with Wainwright & Pujols which could push the number north of $70M for 6 players.

I agree about Raz being a potential building block, but he could fetch a potential building block in return. I also agree about Jay being a 4th outfielder type, but my personal opinion is that the pitching isn’t going to last all season. That’s just my opinion, and I wouldn’t mind being wrong on that.

Andrew May 23, 2011

… wut?

Andrew May 23, 2011

Because Rasmus projects as a cost controlled star, and the other is an a slightly above-average starter at best?

Shrugs.

Otter May 23, 2011

Okay, Jay’s on a hot streak at the plate, but how about defense? Rasmus has a better rating on plays in zone, and better career plays made out of zone, and his UZR is 5.1 compared to Jay’s -3.4. Raz’s arm is a weapon that keeps runners from trying to score on base hits, and with the way the pitching can go in and out, why give up a potent outfielder?
The Birds don’t need as much help on the offensive side, given how well everyone else has been hitting so far.

Dennis May 23, 2011

Otter, I’ll start by saying that I’m not a huge fan of UZR, and Colby is a great example of why I that is. It doesn’t account for a lot of plays he doesn’t try to make, because he doesn’t get a good jump or takes a bad line to the ball. Those plays aren’t errors, but they are mistakes.

His arm can be good, but he often overthrows the cutoff man and allows the runner on 1st to easily take 2nd. He may have great physical tools, but he doesn’t always play smart baseball. Fortunately for Raz, stats don’t account for all pf those mental breakdowns.

As for why I would give him up…I think he’s had a few years to mature, and he’s not really much different as a player than he was last season. He’s actually seeing fewer pitches per at-bat, and he’s not hitting for a lot of power yet. I think he’s going to get expensive. Too expensive.

PH8 May 23, 2011

Ryan Ludwick’s robbed home run says hi!

Otter May 24, 2011

Even if I was prepared to agree with those points, which I’m not certain I am (I just haven’t watched him closely enough to properly debate it), Jay isn’t the guy to replace him. It’ll have to be a trade, and it’ll be hard to get a decent CF for him in the current market, I think.

Andrew May 23, 2011

PH8 May 23, 2011

Place holder for a Comment To Be Named Later?

Andrew May 23, 2011

Meant to type I disagree. Strongly. But I don’t have the energy to refute. I suppose I’m not 100% opposed to trading anyone, but not for the reasons being stated.

Dennis May 23, 2011

The robbed home run was pretty sweet, although everybody conveniently overlooked the fact that Lohse nearly gave up a big fly.

PH8 May 23, 2011

Haven’t overlooked the almost-home run, but doesn’t that make the play by Rasmus that much more impressive?

Dennis May 23, 2011

Not really. He had plenty of time to gather himself for the jump, and (contrary to what Mr Horton said) he didn’t have to time his jump perfectly. The ball wasn’t moving away from Rasmus all that quickly. As the saying goes, Luddy got Petco’d. It happens quite often, and guys like Maybin make catches like that with some frequency. I guess it’s a matter of perspective. Seeing tweets in my Twitter timeline from people comparing Raz to Edmonds is a bit much.

PH8 May 23, 2011

I think this is the perfect time for me to bust this out…

Quit hatin’.

Otter May 24, 2011

I have to agree. Debating value is one thing, but that’s just nitpicking.

Dennis May 24, 2011

It’s really funny how the same people who complain about Raz failing to make plays are all about rainbows and fuzzy bears when he makes a nice play in CF. If I was really a Colby hater, I wouldn’t have written “All Your Dumb Trade Ideas Are Belong To Us” back at the end of January. That’s where I first suggested that Colby is going to get expensive, because he is right there with Justin Upton in terms of talent.

However, if you think that I’m really hatin’ on Colby, then I’ll be more than happy to oblige. If I’m going to do the time, then I might as well do the crime.

PH8 May 24, 2011

I could certainly be proved wrong, but I don’t recall my having ever complained about Rasmus and/or his defense? I’ve been quite satisfied with him this season, perhaps to the point of over-doing it, even when he probably deserved criticism.

Broken down – I think this is just one of those “two opinions (or more) don’t mesh” situations – you have some unreasonable grudge against Rasmus (ok, just kidding, but had to get that shot in there) and the rest of us see him as a far superior long-term option to Jay – and obviously the Cardinals will have to make a decision on whether they want to pay him or not.

But if things shook out differently, and Jay wrested the CF job away from Rasmus, wouldn’t that make him just as expensive to retain?

Dennis May 25, 2011

Really? So, you haven’t taken a single shot at Raz for his defense or his penchant for avoiding outfield walls?

I agree about your summary, except that I never said/wrote that I considered Jay a better long term option. I just don’t think that he’s worth the money. As I previously wrote already, I think he’s in a class with Upton and could surpass Bruce. If Raz puts together a great offense year with a good defensive one, he could push into Holliday territory. I haven’t questioned his potential. I just question his ability to reach it any time soon.

As for Jay taking the job, I don’t see it happening. If it did happen, then that wouldn’t necessarily make Jay as expensive as Raz. Going into his arbitration years, Jay probably wouldn’t make as much in arbitration, and I doubt that he would even ask for as much. Besides, Jay has 1 more year before arbitration, and Raz does not.

PH8 May 25, 2011

If you can find it, I’m happy to retract.

If you’re advocating getting rid of Rasmus, doesn’t that kind of infer that you prefer Jay, regardless of reason – be it money, or whatever?

Re: Jay being expensive, my point was that if he out-and-out WON the job – he’d have to be playing pretty damned well and deserve a pay increase.

Dennis May 26, 2011

May 22nd – The mirrored Oakleys comment may qualify, but that’s completely your call.

If I’m advocating getting rid of Rasmus, it could simply be that I’m looking for a SS/leadoff guy in return or a potentially a cost-controlled young starting pitcher who can help keep the payroll low for another few years. It could be about shifting resource allocations and not just about simply choosing one over the other.

Regarding Jay, he could win the job by outplaying Raz in specific ways that are focal points to the club. What if OBP in the #2 spot becomes the most important thing in the world or they suddenly find themselves in need of another starting pitcher to make that final push?

Even if Jay does outplay Raz in other ways, he still wouldn’t be in line for a huge pay increase for 2012. Jay’s pay would jump from $416K this season to somewhere around $430K for 2012. On the other hand, Raz could jump from $433K to a pretty hefty sum via arbitration. Sure, Jay would deserve more (in my opinion), but he probably wouldn’t get more right away.

Andrew May 27, 2011

I’m pretty confident Jay won’t outplay Raz during a substantial sample size of playing time.

Andrew May 23, 2011

You’ve got to be kidding me, Luddy got Petco’d? It’s a sub-400 ft centerfield… It’s the one place that plays to a hitters advantage in that park.

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